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Field Guides & Natural History  Ornithology  Birds of Europe/Western Palaearctic

Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds An Illustrated and Photographic Guide

By: Tomasz Cofta(Author), Michał Skakuj(Photographer)
496 pages, 2400 colour photos, 850 colour illustrations
Publisher: WILDGuides
A ground-breaking guide with numerous features. Aimed at identifying European passerines in flight, this book provides Tomasz Cofta's illustrations with photos, species descriptions, flight call descriptions and sonograms, and supplementary audio recordings online.
Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds
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  • Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds ISBN: 9780691177571 Flexibound Feb 2021 In stock
    £26.99 £38.00
Price: £26.99
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Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select LandbirdsFlight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds

About this book

Opening up new frontiers in birdwatching, this is the first field guide for identifying European passerines in flight, featuring more than 830 stunning colour illustrations from acclaimed bird artist Tomasz Cofta, who creates remarkably lifelike images using the latest digital technology. With detailed coverage of 206 passerines and 32 near-passerine landbirds, this cutting-edge book features a seamlessly integrated approach. It combines Cofta's precise illustrations, which depict key shape and colouration features, with a range of photos for each species that show how they appear in flight. The species accounts are short, sharp, and authoritative, and essential information on individual flight manner and flock structure and behaviour are represented concisely. In addition, flight calls are transliterated, briefly described, shown as sonograms, and backed up with a unique collection of more than a hundred online audio recordings. While Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds is written in a style that will appeal to all birders, it also contains new knowledge on flight identification, making it a must-have for professional ornithologists and scientists as well.

- The first field guide to flight identification of European passerines
- Covers 206 passerines and 32 near-passerine landbirds
- Features more than 830 colour illustrations
- Includes a range of photos showing each species in flight
- Provides extensive information on flight calls

Customer Reviews (3)

  • A cutting edge book
    By Keith 16 Jan 2021 Written for Flexibound
    When you first get onto a bird there is a high chance that it will be flying, and you will have a few seconds to lock onto its main plumage features. Every ID guide I have focuses on perched birds with a smaller image of them in flight – and in some books you don’t even get that! This new book takes the reverse position, and it’s all about the flight view.

    This book covers 237 species including a number of vagrants. The author and artist are both Polish and therefore some of their species choices reflect a bias towards the birds that they usually see at home, such as the northern form of Long-tailed Tit that rarely reaches the UK. But that is not really a problem. Many of the species are either diurnal or nocturnal migrants and this is stated for each, which is something that I had not given much thought to. The text for each species covers size, structure and shape, colouration, flight, and calls. These texts are quite short but are concise and convey the information you really need. Birds in flight often call so the accompanying information on vocalisations is useful and is sometimes accompanied by a sonogram.

    For me, Tomasz Cofta’s illustrations are the real draw – all 850 of them, showing the upperside, underside and side-on flight views. In real life, you don’t get these perfect views of birds, but that doesn’t matter because there are 2400 photographs as well and they give more typical views of birds in flight. The layout of images is impressive, even though it is created using digital manipulation. Most of us with cameras struggle to take decent flight photos, so the fact that Michał Skakuj contributed 851 of his own shots is really impressive.

    I rarely read the introductory pages in a book, but in this case, they are important as they explain the terminology used and the main things to look for. Many birders do what is called vis-mig (visible migration) and they will be familiar with how different species fly in a certain way in certain conditions. For example, some species fly in a different way on migration compared to short-distance flights. These differences are explained. There is also a link via a QR code to recordings of the flight calls of some species (although you’ll need to know the scientific names of those you are looking for).

    The publishers have described this as a cutting-edge book, and it certainly is a first of its kind. Even if you don’t plan to use it extensively in the field there is something rather special about looking at images of birds in flight as if you are flying with them!
    56 of 64 found this helpful - Was this helpful to you? Yes No
  • Excellent in all aspects: useful & clear
    By Leslie 30 Jan 2021 Written for Flexibound
    I received this book a few days ago and have to report it as one of the most useful, targeted books on ornithology I have ever purchased. Clear objectives and equally clear comparative diagrams and photography highlight differences and features quickly so that even the comparative novice can attempt to start to make valid identification of those many more similar European birds we all struggle with when in flight or at difficult angles, even distance. I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to do exactly what it states in the title and identify European passerines. I congratulate the author on reducing a guide that will no doubt be so well used it will fall to pieces over the coming year. Well worth the price of the title.
    13 of 18 found this helpful - Was this helpful to you? Yes No
  • Mr Cofta will be revered for generations
    By Victor 1 Mar 2021 Written for Flexibound
    This book is so clearly the fruit of a lifetime's systematic observation, it fills one with joy. It gives excellent descriptions and drawings of the individual birds. But perhaps even more important, it gives the birder a simple, straightforward method and a language that he or she can apply to move from ill-defined jizz to well worked out characteristics. This in turn will make jizz more instinctual, because it has been articulated and the bird observed in detail.

    The Wild Guide publishers have produced yet another hugely innovative and class-defining book – a bit like their Britain's Spiders second edition seems to come close to perfection for what a field guide should look like. The illustrations are very clear and accurate. The photographs are well selected to show a range of views one might encounter of the bird in real life.

    There are always minor quibbles with a book of this ambition and uniqueness. But it is a truly remarkable work, one that deserves the title landmark. I suspect like better cameras led to more photography of birds in flight rather than just perching, this book will change the way many birders watch and observe. And I suspect this change will be a slow-burner, and all the deeper for it, as the method and the concepts are better and better absorbed until they become part of one's instinctual observation.

    It is a truly remarkable work, one that will surely rank with such hallowed names as the Collins Bird Guide. And it is a treat to handle and use. Thank you, Tomasz Cofta, and thank you, WILDGuides, for giving us a whole array of valuable new tools, and for doing it in such a pleasurable and easy to grasp way.
    16 of 16 found this helpful - Was this helpful to you? Yes No


Tomasz Cofta is an acclaimed bird illustrator and ornithologist. He has published more than a hundred papers on bird identification featuring close to two thousand of his own illustrations and has published thousands of other bird and nature illustrations in some sixty books, including The World’s Rarest Birds (Princeton WILDGuides).

By: Tomasz Cofta(Author), Michał Skakuj(Photographer)
496 pages, 2400 colour photos, 850 colour illustrations
Publisher: WILDGuides
A ground-breaking guide with numerous features. Aimed at identifying European passerines in flight, this book provides Tomasz Cofta's illustrations with photos, species descriptions, flight call descriptions and sonograms, and supplementary audio recordings online.
Media reviews

"I declare that I am a fan of the WILDGuides series. They are authoritative, usually superbly written, brilliantly illustrated and very well produced. The title of this new guide will immediately get the field birder's pulse racing; a guide to the all-too-difficult subject of birds in flight, aiming to pin down essential details from sometimes the briefest of glimpses of a bird as it hurtles overhead or dives into cover, never to be seen again. [...] The biggest omission however is the lack of the ‘F-wave’ for each species within the individual accounts. This is so well explained in the introduction and on further reading that you cannot help feel that this is the ‘USP’ of the title. So why hasn't the F-wave of each individual species been included in the individual accounts? I admit that some would be the same for similar species and so may appear repetitive, but this is where you want these F-wave diagrams – not 250 pages away so that you have to repeatedly keep turning back. I personally would have prioritized the F-wave diagram over a sonogram and feel this is such a bewildering omission when so much thought and care has been put into other aspects of the book. Nit-picking aside, this is a tremendous book in scope, and by and large is well executed. There will be few who will not learn something from it: for the experienced hunter of rarities on a wind-swept isle it might just solidify what they have begun to notice for themselves, but for the newcomer it will prove fascinating (although I would advise they use it alongside their more familiar field guide). My hope is that others will be able to bring some of this book’s insights into the more popular field guides and bring the F-wave concept to the masses."
– Steve P. Dudley, Ibis, 2021

"Not so long ago, the idea of an identification guide dedicated to passerines in flight would have seemed rather outlandish. But the increasing popularity of observing visible migration now makes such a guide timely and this volume is a high-quality addition to the identification literature. [...] The book's focus is on field identification but in this age of digital photography I imagine that it will come in equally handy when pondering those dodgy record shots of birds whizzing by or that mystery warbler that took off just as the shutter was pressed. Anyone with an interest in visible migration or identification generally will want to own a copy of this guide and it's a remarkable achievement by a single author."
– Chris Kehoe, British Birds 114, April 2021

"[...] It is hard to imagine a guide of the quality of Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds coming out 20 years ago. When I first received a copy, I was excited by its novel aims but remained somewhat sceptical about whether it could pull them off. The more I pour over this guide, though, the more I am impressed. Hats off to the author and illustrator, Tomasz Cofta, who has produced a quite remarkable – and undoubtedly original – piece of work. [...] this is a visual guide like no other. In many ways it is a reflection of how birding has advanced since the turn of the millennium. Improvements in optics and digital photography have been spectacular, and clearly contribute to making the production of such a guide possible. Furthermore, flight identification has never been more relevant, with 'vis-migging' and associated recording an increasingly popular pastime among birders across the region. Flight Identification of European Passerines and Select Landbirds is a genuinely stunning production that is arguably the greatest 'must-have' for European birders since the Collins Bird Guide."
– Josh Jones,

"I struggle to think of a birder I know or know of who will not wish to buy this book."
– Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

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